Background Building #1
10/09/2015
External Reference:
I was looking at some photos taken in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania, the area I model on my layout, when I saw this back-of-the-building structure that I thought might be a nice project to build for my layout. In the RailPictures.net photo the white building is visible behind the first car in the train. Update: I recently learned that this is the back of the building that is owned by the Russian Brotherhood Organization (a national fraternal organization). However, at the time I started this project, I didn't know that, so that is why I decided to name my project the "Background Building #1".

photo: copyright Wade H. Massie
(no copyright infringement intended; simply using the photo as a reference; see link above for source)
. Another photo can be found in the book Canonsburg Reflections 1802-2002 on page 213.
Background Building #1
The first step was to take a sheet of 0.040" styrene and mark the dimensions of the back of the building and the two sides. It is a shallow-relief building, so only three of the four sides will be modeled. I am making it 30 scale feet tall, 40 feet wide, and 8 feet deep.
Background Building #1
Using the score-and-snap technique, I created the three parts. The roof section in the photo was later on discarded.
Background Building #1
There are four small windows in the back of the building, and one on the side. The other side can't be seen in the photos, but I decided to put one there as well. Again, the location of the windows is approximate, matching what I see in the prototype photos.
Background Building #1
After cutting out the windows, I wanted to simulate the siding used on the building. To get nice straight lines, and to make sure that they matched on the sides of the building, I put all three pieces down on my glass work surface and used double-sided tape to hold them in place. I then used the dental pick you see in the photo to scribe the lines. The lines were marked at 9 scale inches apart.
Background Building #1
With that done, I could assemble the three walls.
Background Building #1
On the inside corners I used some square styrene strips to reinforce the joint.
Background Building #1
I noticed that the back wall was not flat anymore, so I glued some more square styrene strips to force it to stay straight. I also attached the triangular pieces to make sure the side walls stayed in place.
Background Building #1
I then used some scale 1"x4" styrene strips to trim the windows.
Background Building #1
The prototype's windows are just two-pane ones, so I glued a strip of the same 1"x4" material horizontally in the center of the windows. I also glued some scale 2"x6" styrene strips on the corners of the building.
Background Building #1
That completes the basic structure, so I took it outside and used the Krylon Primer paint to paint the whole building, inside and out.
Background Building #1
The prototype building is completely white, so I used a spray can of white paint to paint the building again. The grooves the dental pick made stand out quite nicely with the layout's lighting coming from above.
Background Building #1
For the roof I used a piece of 0.030" styrene. I made it overlap the exterior dimensions of the building by about 6 scale inches. Here I am using weights to put pressure on the styrene sheet being glued to the building. I used 5-minute epoxy to do that, for strength, and also to fill any gaps there might be between the roof and building.
Background Building #1
I decided to put shingles on the roof. The prototype photos don't show the roof clearly, so I am guessing here. I made mine out of some black stiff paper, the kind you get with structure kits to put in as diagonal dividers to prevent people from seeing clear through the building's windows. I made them 1 scale foot by 2 feet in dimension.
Background Building #1
The paper is a bit too thick, but I am just going after the overall effect here. I glued individual pieces down in the first row, and then overlapped the second row on top of it. Much like you would do in the real world.
Background Building #1
I had a hard time getting a good photo of the building with all the shingles in place. The shingles look red, but the paper is a very dark gray. I actually thought the roof looks like it is covered with slate!
Background Building #1
I used a scale 4-inch C-channel styrene strip to simulate the rain gutter. I then used floral wire to represent the drain. Both were installed using superglue.
Background Building #1
Next up is the foundation. The second photo I have of the building shows the foundation exposed, because the building is up on a hill. I fabricated mine out of styrene sheet, and then reinforced the corners and the long straight.
Background Building #1
I painted it with POLLY Scale "Milwaukee Road Gray". In the photo you can see that I installed four tabs to make sure that the foundation lines up perfectly with the rest of the building.
Background Building #1
After I glued the foundation to the building (using superglue), I came back and used Aleene's Tacky Glue as a caulk to make sure no light gets through the gap. I used left over pieces of plastic from N-scale buildings as the tabs.
Background Building #1
With the foundation attached, I could trim the drain pipes to match the bottom of the foundation. In the photo the foundation still needs to be trimmed flush with the back of the building, so that the whole thing sits flush against the layout's backdrop.
Background Building #1
I then used POLLY Scale "Reefer White" to paint the drain pipes. It seemed to be a perfect match to the white spray paint I had used on the building. I jumped the gun a bit on the painting of the main building; I should have done the gutter and drain pipe before doing the roof and the foundation, so that the whole thing could have been painted with the spray can. Oh well. It came out well anyway.
Background Building #1
I painted the glue with which I filled the gap between the building and the foundation with some black paint, because I could see through the gap, if there was any light behind it. The building is going to be flush up against my backdrop, but it is better to be safe than sorry. The next step was to cut some pieces of clear plastic for the windows, which were glued with Formula 560 canopy glue, just in case any of it was visible later.
Background Building #1
I wanted to add some life to the building. Here are a few details I am going to add. The small pewter barrels are large N-scale barrels that work fine as small vats in S-scale. The figure is an M.T.H. RailKing woman.
Background Building #1
I completed the curtains and adding the details. Can you see the woman looking out the window?
Background Building #1
Here's a close-up of all the interesting windows. The backdrop's sky and tree line is visible in some of the windows, but that is because the building hasn't been attached to the layout yet.
Background Building #1
Here's the behind-the-scenes look. I put the woman on one of the reinforcing strips, which worked perfectly. The curtains are from a Pine Canyons kit, and two are from an index card. The three barrels were painted and weathered, and then glued to an L-shaped piece of styrene, and placed in front of the window such that they are somewhat visible. The effect wasn't as dramatic as I had expected (see above photo). All that remains is to glue in some black paper in the interior to make sure that none of the layout's backdrop is going to be visible. Two add-on buildings are going to be built next, so stay tuned...
Background Building #1
I used some black paper to prevent being able to see through the building, just in case some light gets through. I used some plastic clamps to exert slight pressure on the paper while the glue (Aleene's Tacky Glue) was drying.
Background Building #1